The Horsemen (1971)

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Released 19-Sep-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Adventure Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-The Guns Of Navarone, Mackenna's Gold
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1971
Running Time 105:08 (Case: 109)
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By John Frankenheimer

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Omar Sharif
Leigh Taylor-Young
Jack Palance
David de Keyser
Peter Jeffrey
Mohammad Shamsi
George Murcell
Eric Pohlmann
Case ?
RPI $14.95 Music Georges Delerue

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    I chose to review this DVD for a few reasons, despite knowing absolutely nothing about the film. Firstly it was directed by a director whose work I have enjoyed, John Frankenheimer. For those not aware, John Frankenheimer is the man responsible for the first Manchurian Candidate, The Train, Ronin and many others. Secondly, I quite like the work of Omar Sharif, especially in films like Lawrence of Arabia (my personal #1 film of all time) and thirdly, I was intrigued to see one of what must be very few US productions set and filmed in Afghanistan.

    The story is based around the tribes of horsemen or chapandaz who live in the northern mountains of Afghanistan or at least did in 1970 (when this film was made). The main character is Uraz (Omar Sharif), the pigheaded, gambling son of a tribal chief. He is an excellent horseman but a pretty ordinary man. His father Tursen (Jack Palance) is a proud old traditionalist, who despite knowing his son's weaknesses is still proud of him. Tursen chooses men to represent his tribe and their regional leader, Osman Bey, in a sports tournament in Kabul. The sport is buzkashi, a riding game that has very few rules other than the object is to pick up a headless calf while riding your horse and take it around a marker and then take it back into a circle. This doesn't sound too bad until you realise that many different men are trying to do this at the same time with only one headless calf. Needless to say, this sport is fairly violent, and not just to the calf. Obviously, amongst the men Tursen sends is his son with the promise that if he wins he will own the finest horse in his father's stable. Tursen is accompanied by his faithful servant and groomsman, Mukhi. All does not go well in Kabul, and Uraz is too embarrassed to head straight home, deciding to take a longer, more dangerous route with only Mukhi to accompany him. During this trek, his mettle and morals are tested and his very life lies in the balance. Along the way, they meet Zareh (Leigh Taylor-Young), a young woman who helps him but may not be completely altruistic. The only other important character is a recurring gambler, Hayatal, who Uraz meets up with.

    Whilst the subject matter of this film is certainly not clichéd, this film suffers from having an unsympathetic main character whose motivations are very difficult to understand. The acting is of high quality and the magnificent scenery and cinematography by Claude Renoir certainly make it easy on the eye. The film features many animal fights which may offend some viewers including camels, birds and even sheep.

    Those who are interested in films which reveal different cultures and ways of life will get something from this film but I cannot give it a general recommendation to everyone.

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Transfer Quality


    The video quality is very good considering the age of the film.

    The feature is presented in a 2.35:1 aspect ratio 16x9 enhanced which is the original aspect ratio.

    The picture was very clear and sharp throughout (surprisingly so for a film of this age), with no evidence of low level noise. Shadow detail was quite good. There was light grain throughout.

    The colour was very good with no major issues to report.

    Artefacts were restricted to film artefacts including a collection of both black and white specks which are obvious early on but get better as the film progresses and a hair at 0:50. There were no noticeable film-to-video artefacts.

    There are subtitles in English and six other languages. The English subtitles were clear and easy to read.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    The audio quality is fine.

    This DVD contains five audio options, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono soundtrack encoded at 192 Kb/s and the same in French, German, Italian & Spanish.

    Dialogue was mostly clear and easy to understand although accents sometimes made some lines of dialogue difficult to catch. There was no problem with audio sync.

    The score of this film by Georges Delarue is very nice and suitable to the movie.

    The surround speakers and subwoofer were not used.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use



    The menu is simple, still and silent.

Theatrical Trailer (2:23)

    A very dirty and unrestored trailer presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced.

Other Trailers

    Trailers for The Guns of Navarone & Mackenna's Gold.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release of this film is essentially the same with minor soundtrack, subtitle and trailer differences only.


    A film set and filmed in Afghanistan about tribal horsemen.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is fine.

    The disc has only a trailer as an extra.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Daniel Bruce (Do you need a bio break?)
Friday, March 03, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV667A DVD-V DVD-A SACD, using Component output
DisplaySony FD Trinitron Wega KV-AR34M36 80cm. Calibrated with Digital Video Essentials (PAL). This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 576i (PAL)/480i (NTSC).
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationPioneer VSX-511
SpeakersBose 201 Direct Reflecting (Front), Phillips SB680V (Surround), Phillips MX731 (Center), Yamaha YST SW90 (Sub)

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